travel


Eternal Truths from Pompeii

After Grandmother read me the story of Pompeii, I sniffled over those tortured deaths by volcanic ash. Then I realized that Grandmother would die someday, and sobbed. I never dreamed that Pompeii held yet more shocking truths for me. I first toured Pompeii in 1973, and being a teen, my only clear memory is of a painting kept locked behind a grate to shield the innocence of children. In the painting, a man weighs his mega-member against a heap of gold on a balance scale. Interpretation: a man’s organ is more valuable than wealth. Fifty years later, Pompeii’s 66 acres […]


Glorious Grecian Gluten

I wanted to scratch my skin off to make the itching stop. Even prescription meds couldn’t calm my rash. When I finally got in to see the dermatologist, she could offer only a list of possible allergens. Eliminating the allergens did nothing to help. After years of suffering, a friend suggested that I go gluten free. I bit the bullet and found blessed relief. Before I learned how to avoid the pitfalls, I learned that taking chances wasn’t worth the indulgence. The rash from even a small serving of glutenous food can bring a month of misery. So, when a […]


Athenian Subway Tour

Tour director Rachel recruited my husband Steve to help haul excess luggage across Athens, then treated him to a Metro ride back. She knew that taking the Metro was dicey. During the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009, Greece had no resources to prevent illegal immigrants from flooding in, so Athens was overrun with desperate people, some of whom still struggle to survive. Many have turned to picking pockets, and the subway is an ideal locale for getting hands-on. After having Rachel point out a few likely candidates, Steve noticed that though pickpockets dress like tourists, they reek of body […]


Loose-Leash Encounters

    High in the Sawtooth Mountains, my Molly mutt charged into a small valley. Through the trees, I glimpsed the creature she’d spotted. It was a little bigger than Molly, dark, and slow. Bear cub? The glance I’d gotten had left a calf shaped impression, but rough-cut, like a Gumby character. Bear or bovine, that critter’s mama was not going to stand for this. I shouted with little hope. I knew that Molly was too excited to hear me, and that my lumbering pace would make me a fine target for that mama’s wrath. This sort of situation is […]


Have You Seen the Painted Ladies?

     “The painted ladies are migrating.”        Puzzled looks prompted our biology teacher to describe the butterflies he’d noticed.        Sure enough, as I drove home that afternoon, I glimpsed a smallish orange and black butterfly wafting along. Then a few more and a few more, all fluttering north. Unreal! As a lifelong Puebloan, I’d lived in the path of the great painted lady migration for 35 years and never noticed. That evening, I shared the news with my mother. She’d seen no signs of a butterfly migration in her area of Colorado’s Grand Valley. […]


Who’s the Helper in Helper, Utah?

Why did the folks in Helper, Utah choose that name? Knowing that Utah is predominantly Morman, I thought of a Morman friend who once told me that she was happy to watch my little ones on our moving day because God rewarded her good deeds with blessings. So, maybe the town fathers chose the name to promote neighborly cooperation? No, according to a historical marker, Helper began as a railway stop where extra (helper) engines were added to power coal trains over the mountain. In any case, Helper is a well-kept, welcoming community. I was impressed to see an antique […]


Canyoneering in Iceland Inspires! 2

Our Icelandic self-driving tour book described, “a little water adventure:…by walking carefully on rocks in a stream, you can avoid getting your feet wet and see a waterfall.” Yes! I steadied my rickety knees with a hiking stick and tackled the rocks. Falling into the shallow stream wouldn’t have killed me. I’d likely have been hurt though, so I struggled along testing every step, setting my stick, grappling the canyon wall for grips, stopping to revel in the beauty. The canyon walls soon narrowed to a slot with scenery so gorgeous I groaned. Passing hikers warned that the rocks ahead […]


Mystery in the Mud

Outside Yuma, Arizona—not far from the Mexican border—my husband and I got lucky in finding a dispersed camping spot along the Senator Wash lake front. The reservoir water level had receded, leaving extra beach space, and I spent hours soaking in the view while walking a swath of dried lakebed. Strangely, the mud had dried into zillions of baseball size pockmarks. I wondered if some special property of the soil caused it to dry with depressions. Had some aquatic species somehow excavated indentations? Too small for people tracks…dog, coyote, bobcat, deer? Maybe, but probably too small, and anyway, that many […]